by Jon Sanders
Director of the Center for Food, Power, and Life, Research Editor | John Locke Foundation
A year ago today, Gov. Roy Cooper announced his intent to use emergency powers to shut down in-person eating and drinking at restaurants and bars that very day. Yes, on St. Patrick’s Day, and yes, without any warning to restaurant and bar owners preparing for one of their biggest sales days of the year.
In the course of the day, his afterthought of complying with state law by seeking Council of State concurrence with his already-announced order turned into an embarrassment. The majority did not comply.
Read my brief on this anniversary, “Why EMA reform is so urgent: Cooper’s abuse of emergency powers is a year old,” and watch Cooper go from telling Council of State members to “stand by for e-mail seeking concurrence…within the hour,” to formally requesting concurrence and urgently awaiting an answer, to telling media that afternoon that he “does not need concurrence.”
Cooper’s terrible decision that day, one year ago today, is why Jon Guze had to write such a masterful series on why the legislature must amend the Emergency Powers Act to protect the people of North Carolina from such dangerous one-person rule. And it’s why the legislature is debating one such bill even now: House Bill 264, the Emergency Powers Accountability Act. Among other things, it would require consensus from the Council of State within 48 hours; not allow any statewide declaration of emergency to last beyond 30 days; require each extension up to 30 days to require new concurrence from the Council of State; and once concurrence fails, not allow similar declarations based on the same emergency.